Thursday, 14 April 2011

Write up on immersion and atmosphere

Rationale
In assignment 1 looked into the theme of surrealism. I looked into various media, such as Alice in Wonderland, Salvador Dali, Parappa the Rapper and M.C. Escher. I intended to create a map in the style of surrealism. I intended the map to use strategic immersion. It would have a puzzle style of gameplay where the player would have to think their way through the various obstacles. The Surrealistic style of the design would make up the atmospheric aspect of the map. The map would be a strange place where the normal rules wouldn’t apply. I wanted the puzzles to be interesting, challenging and enjoyable. I didn’t want to resort to the basic switch puzzles. The best games often have the player do something different every level. This helps the game remain interesting to the player. I have divided the map into three segments; Twisted Corridors, Shrink/Grow Puzzle and the Escher room. These three segments have their own unique ‘gimmick’ which will make my map interesting to play and engross the player.

Aesthetics
The research I did on surrealism provided some colourful and fanciful imagery but the most effective way of getting this across was to take realistic elements and then subvert them. This steered me in the direction of designing my map to have a realistic look. I then concluded that an office work space would be one of the most mundane environments around and if I were to mix it with surreal elements the theme of a twisted reality would be quite effectively realised.
Twisting Corridors
To get across the atmosphere of a surrealistic environment I wanted to use twisted corridors. This was inspired by the paintings of Salvador Dali. I intended to have a maze segment where the player would have to navigate their way around a maze which constantly changes shape.  The player would walk down one set of corridors one time and the next time it would be completely different. I thought this would be a good way of getting across an atmosphere of confusion. This idea would also be good opportunity to place a puzzle element within the map. I intended the player to navigate their way through this maze to collect key items before moving on to the next segment. This element would provide some strategic immersion for the player.



Shrink/Grow Puzzle
While researching the theme of surrealism I came encounter the works of Lewis Carroll, one of the most notable being Alice in Wonderland. While researching into the books the ideas of shrinking and growing to solve a puzzle seemed like a good concept to put into my map. To carry this out I intended there to be a puzzle where the player has to shrink down to collect a key hidden in an air vent and then grow to normal size to unlock the door and leave. The player would see their environment change size before their eyes. I intended this element to get across a feeling of interest and thus intrigue the player enough to continue.

Escher Room
The final segment of my map was inspired by Relativity (1953)   a lithographic print by M. C. Escher. This is a work which plays around with gravity and perspective. I intended to create a room like this for my map. It would be a room which alternating gravity, it would be a good way to get across the theme of surrealism while at the same time providing the player with a unique and interesting puzzle to face.

Evaluation
When creating the level one particular problem I had was with the lighting, for some reason interp actors seemed darker than static meshes and when I place them together they looked too different from each other. I tried changing their properties and trying various ways of lighting the map but to no avail. I think the problem stemmed from my lack of knowledge regarding the lighting aspects of asset creation, during this module I was focused on the other aspects of my map. This is an issue I neglected and it’s something I will look into for future assignments. I think the jarring visuals took away from the immersion aspect of my map. While I was creating the map I didn’t leave enough time finish off a few of my textures and as a result some parts look a little unpolished. I think modelling the corridors and the Escher room took up too much of my time.
I think the puzzle aspect of my map worked well, I used the kismet aspect of UDK to construct them.  The Twisted Corridor maze was constructed using Interp Actors, I then used kismet to animate them moving around. I placed hidden triggers around the maze and whenever the player touches them a different part of the maze would change. I did it this way so the player wouldn’t be able to see the maze change shape, they would go to a different area and then return to the original area to find it has changed shape. This approach had to be taken because if the player was near a corridor as it changed place there would be a chance they could fall through the level and thus the experience would be ruined.
The Twisted Corridor segment also had secondary puzzle to deal with, before the player enters this segment they are presented with an office style motivational poster. The poster has the caption ’There’s no I in TEAM’; this is a clue to tell the player what to do next. The following Twisted Corridor segment has four different posters based on a different attribute; Tenacity, Excellence, Aspiration and Motivation. The player has to activate the posters in order to spell out the word TEAM, this is done by the player going near the poster and pressing the E (use) key. When designing the instructional poster I made sure the graphics emphasized the word TEAM so it’s easier for the player to understand, I felt I had to do this because ‘using posters’ is quite obscure thing to do and it may not occur to the player. In reflection this aspect of the puzzle could have been designed to fit in more with the aesthetics level, sometimes clunky design can break immersion. I used kismet to make the posters change colour when activated to show the player they are making progress. I think this worked well but I think a sound effect would have benefited the player as well.

The Shrink/Grow puzzle worked well, I managed to use kismet to create this aspect. To create the shrink/grow effect I created two rooms that were the same except one room was four times bigger than the other, I used the Teleport function of kismet to switch the player back and forth between the two rooms and create the illusion of shrinking and growing. To change size (teleport) the player used pop cans that were place around the room. This was taken from Alice in Wonderland. The player drinks the pink can to shrink and the blue can to grow.
When placing the assets in the room I tried to place them in locations which looked natural, I didn’t want it to be too obvious they were playing a game. This meant I was also concerned the puzzle would be obscure for the player to solve so I placed the pop cans in easy to see places. In reflection I might have made the puzzle easy to solve.
The Escher room also functioned well. To have a room with changing gravity I first created it in 3ds max and imported it as a mesh. I then placed the mesh in the map as an interp actor so I could rotate it. This is so I could simulate the changing gravity. This approach meant that the room had to be an enclosed space, so I would have to teleport player inside. I was concerned this might break immersion a little but I placed the teleport trigger at the bottom of a pit and so the fall of the player and the teleportation effect blended together fairly well. To solve the puzzle the player has to simply make their way to the top, doing so causes the room to rotate and gravity to change. The player does this two more, the second time teleporting them back to the beginning of the level signifying the end of the map. In hindsight I think the puzzle worked well, the changing gravity was an interesting game mechanic although I think it was far too easy to solve and if did I this again I would make it more challenging.
Credits/References
This is link to a set of video tutorials by Buzz 3D. This is from the Udn website. These video helped me constructing my kismet sequences.
Here’s link to a you tube user, this paticular video showed my how to import meshes inot UDK. He covers materialIDs and collison.
The visual styles were influenced by various media nad artists I researched for assignment 1, I have placed a copy of the powerpoint presentation on the disk accompanying this document.
The meshes and textures were created by myself.

Twisted Office Space - - Gameplay

Here is footage of my finished map. This was recored with fraps, so there is some slow down which isn't there during actual gameplay.

video
Here's is link to my youtube account showing this video:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ImAXFZ0T9Uo

Tuesday, 12 April 2011

Segment 2/3 plan

Here is a plan of the second segment. This is taken from Alice in Wonderland. To solve this puzzle the player will have to drink a potion to shrink. When the player becomes small they then have to crawl through an air vent and find a key card. To achieve this I will create two rooms of different sizes and use a teleport function to give the illusion the pleyer is instantly changing size. This will require the player to think in order to solve this puzzle.

Monday, 11 April 2011

Segment 1/3 plan


This is a segment of my map. The player will start off standinfg in front of a poster with the caption of 'There's no I in TEAM'. The player then has to activate four poster around the hallways to spell out the word team. This will be a puzzle to provide some emmersion, the solution will not be obvious and the player will have to think to solve the problem. The hallways will also change as the player travels through them, this will give off an atomsphere of disorientation and confusion.